As any expectant momma nearing her due date, I have been chipping away at the last-minute preparations before my little one arrives.
First, it was the daunting task of preparing her nursery (in our 107 year old house currently undergoing renovations)! Thank goodness for a handy husband and the help of our parents, who transformed Charley’s room from a dusty construction zone with no walls to a cozy baby paradise!
Even though there were still finishing touches to be completed, as soon as the walls were painted and the floors were installed (sorry babe, I just couldn’t wait any longer!), I set about bringing in furniture, arranging her giant book collection on the bookshelves, hanging décor, and making cute little headband and bow holders.
More recently, I tackled the task of getting out all the clothes that we were given as gifts as well as the ones we have collected for Charley since before we were even pregnant or knew she was a girl. (We LOVE thrift stores!!)
I sorted out all the “boy” clothes and packed them away for future brothers for Charley. (No worries though – she still has plenty of blue, a couple pairs of overalls, and a collection of converse sneakers that makes me envious!)
I then had the task of dividing out all the clothes by size and type.
After I figured out my organization strategy (these divider bins from IKEA are amazing – and so affordable!), I undid all my hard work to begin laundering all these sweet little things.
(Oh my gosh, my laundry room smelled like heaven. Dreft, you have a new fan.)
Although we anticipate using the disposable diapers we’ve been given – while our newborn is requiring a change every other minute – our goal is to use cloth full-time as soon as she is big enough to wear them! That brings me to my current preparation… the adorable cloth diapers and inserts! I recently began the task of prepping all the inserts (some of which require multiple washes to increase absorbency) as well as the covers.
Last night, when the covers had dried, I went to Charley’s room and sat down on the bed to lovingly fold each of them before placing them back in their storage basket to await her little tushy.
As I folded each diaper with a smile on my face, I realized that my excitement about diapers may seem silly to some. In fact, my excitement about any of these tasks may seem silly. Preparing a home for a human being who you’ve never met and has never lived in your home before is a huge undertaking! (Let alone one that poops constantly, doesn’t allow you to sleep, and gives you no thanks for all your efforts!)
Why should I be so excited about doing my baby’s laundry for the first time?
Why should I get giddy about organizing stacks of books? About disinfecting baby toys? Why should washing and drying and folding diapers and inserts bring me so much joy?
I was then reminded of the season before Chris and I were engaged. While we dated, I often brought my laundry over to his place and washed our things together. It gave me joy as I lovingly folded and hung up each article of his clothing.
I admit… I even folded his Hanes.
Doing his laundry was not only a way to express my love and care for him through an act of service, it was a sneak-peek for me of what it would be like to be his wife… to care for him – my very own husband.
I had prayed for him, waited 27 long and painful years for him, and here he was. He was such a gift. A gift I did nothing to earn or deserve.
So being the one who got to do his laundry was a privilege, a joy, an honor.
I was the one that got to be his woman.
Not anyone else.
As I prepare for this sweet baby I worried I would never have… this child hoped, prayed, and waited 30 years for, I feel much the same.
I did nothing to deserve her. She is a gift from God.
I am the one that gets to take care of her.
I am the one that gets to do her laundry.
I am the one that gets to sacrifice my body, my life, my full nights of sleep for her.
I am the one that gets to be her mom.
Not anyone else.
As I continued folding diapers, this realization struck deep.
I know there are hard days to come, but I hope I always remember that my husband and my child (and future children) are gifts.
I did not earn them.
They belong to God, and I have been entrusted with their lives – with the honor of caring for and loving them.
I wonder – do we forget these things somewhere along the way in our marriages?
In our parenting?
I think for many of us it seems at some point as if the joy and honor and privilege fade, and a spirit of complaining and feelings of resentment take over.
Maybe we feel like we’re not appreciated.
It seems like the work is never done.
We’re always the one that washes the dishes.
We can’t remember the last time we were thanked.
And while I whole-heartedly agree that a reciprocated appreciation and teamwork approach in these daily tasks is ideal, it doesn’t change the bottom line.
Our spouse and our children are GIFTS…
gifts that we once upon a time hoped and prayed for.
Just as marriage shouldn’t be looked at as a “duty,” neither should the tasks that come along with it. No one forced me to get married, so why should I expect to have the right to be offended by or grumble about the tasks that come along with doing life together?
No one forced me to have a child, either. So why should I EVER be upset with her if she causes me sleepless nights, gives me extra work, or sometimes even makes me downright miserable? (It’s not her fault my thighs look like a tube of cottage cheese.)
I know some days will be harder than others, especially as the sleep-deprived nights hit, or when my husband has been out of town for work and hasn’t been able to help as much… when my child has destroyed the house… or when there’s not a single clean fork, and I feel more like a sweatpants-clad societal cast-off than the fitted-jeans social butterfly I used to be.
But each time I pull the next load of clothes from the dryer…
Each time I prepare a cloth diaper
or fold a pair of Hanes…
I hope I remember.
I get to.
I’M his wife.
I’M her mother.
…and not anyone else.